A groundbreaking study in Nature Communications has revealed that obesity, considered a modern-day health peril, might be linked to a broader spectrum of cancers than earlier believed.
The research indicates that obesity, previously connected to 13 types of cancers, is now associated with 18, challenging the 'body positive' narrative that argues against the harmful health implications of obesity.
Earlier, obesity's cancerous impact was confined to breast, pancreatic, bowel, and kidney cancers. However, the expanded list of obesity-related cancers includes leukemia, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and among non-smokers, head, neck, and bladder cancers.
Based on data from 2.6 million Spanish adults aged 40 or younger who were cancer-free in 2009, the study suggests that individuals who battled obesity at a young age, or were obese for extended periods, might face an amplified risk of cancer. Of the study participants, 225,396 were diagnosed with cancer within nine years.
Dr. Heinz Freisling, one of the co-authors, insists on re-evaluating "the cancer burden associated with overweight and obesity, which currently is likely underestimated."
This revelation comes amidst growing acceptance of 'fat positivity' in American society, with efforts to destigmatize obesity, particularly in children. Virginia Sole-Smith, in her book "Fat Talk," attempts to dispel the so-called childhood obesity epidemic, arguing that societal anxiety around fatness could be more harmful than children being overweight.
Similarly, New York City's Democratic Mayor, Eric Adams, after passing a bill against height and weight-based discrimination, contested the well-established notion that body type directly influences health.
On the contrary, Dr. Panagiota Mitrou, director of research, policy, and innovation at the World Cancer Research Fund, underscored the crucial role of maintaining a healthy weight in cancer prevention. Mitrou reaffirms, “maintaining a healthy weight throughout life is one of the most important things people can do to reduce their cancer risk, and early prevention in adulthood is key.”